Philip Hoyle sent me this clipping of a wartime Fort Benning Bayonet newspaper. It mentions gold jump wings that were not officially authorized to wear but were given to Sgt. Karl N. Best, 542nd Parachute Infantry Regiment and 501st PIB to commemorate his 50th Jump.
It’s worth noting here that the 542nd Parachute Infantry Regiment (later Battalion) had a rocky start and it’s prospects of ever seeing combat almost vanished. The 542nd was disbanded in July 1945. You can read a short history here.
Photos of this smooth-bodied unmarked TL-122 shaped flashlight were sent to me by Éric Lagache. He bought it at a flee market in the Norh of France. The body is made of brass and the neck of aluminum. He has annotated the parts for us (in French):
Keep sending me photos of other variants if you find one that’s not in the article yet. I’m amazed how new variants keep turning up after all these years.
This jump wing is unmarked and seems to have been made from a sand cast mold. The pin is peculiar too.
These pictures were sent to me by Beau Harper. Some people told me this could be an Italian theater made jump wing, but I never heard about that. I do know of bullion embroidered jump wings made in Italy, but not metal badges.
I just added these photos of TL-122-B flashlight with different manufacturer markings.
The one with GITS on the battery cover was sent to me by Joseph Deak. The one with the Bright Star brand comes from Greg Quays. His father was in the Australian Army in New Guinea ’43-45. The Australian troops got a bottle of beer in their rations. His father swapped his beer for this flashlight with a GI he met. A fun story!
Daniel Woditsch sent me these photos of a Taylor wrist compass he found by metal detecting at Gossersweiler by Dahn, Germany. This would have been on the way to the Rhein river for the Americans, although I don’t know about any particular combat having taken place there.
The point however, is that Daniel opened the compass and found that the compass module inside of the bakelite housing is actually fully self-contained and it even still has all of its liquid. The bottom of the module is still clearly marked MAR 24 1944. I can only assume that other Taylor wrist compasses are dated likewise, but you can’t see it unless you’d pry open the casing.
His compass looks remarkably well preserved for having been under the ground for 75 years! It’s a great opportunity for us to see the inside for once.
This 1941 movie was filmed with members of the 501st Parachute Battalion performing the actual jump scenes. It is a pre-Pearl Harbor propaganda film about young Americans, from various social backgrounds, who undergo parachute training at Fort Benning prior to becoming paratroopers.
The story is about 3 guys who enlist as volunteers in the Parachute Battalion, which was founded a year earlier, as you may have read in the previous post. By then, the Battalion was stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia.
From the signing of the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 in the United States and American interest of military matters, Hollywood provided a rash of films in 1941 about the various branches of the US Armed Forces, both serious and comic.
Fun fact: he founder of the American parachute troops General William C. Lee doubled for the lead actor Robert Preston in some scenes.
This magazine from November-December 1940 is the earliest one I have about the beginning of the parachute troops. The feature article is called ‘The Tentative Parachute Battalion’.
Here we can see the earliest parachutist uniforms and equipment. Most parachutists in the photos wear HBT coveralls with a white name tape over the left breast pocket, and they wear a khaki twill overseas cap without piping and with the 29th Infantry Regiment distinguished unit insignia (DUI). This regiment supplied the first volunteer troops for this experimental unit. This unit was called the 501st Parachute Battalion, out of which the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment aka ‘Geronimo’ would be formed.
The so-called Test Platoon was established on June 26, 1940. The article copy doesn’t mention it, but these photographs would have been taken at Camp Toccoa, Georgia. It wasn’t until later that the unit moved to Fort Benning, where the bulk of WWII paratroopers were to be trained.
We also see T-4 parachutes (note the large square shaped reserve packs).
On the last page we see a very early .30 cal. machine gun with a barrel shroud with slots rather than round ventilation holes.
Last year, I already did a post on this after buying a Drago-made badge. I received some comments on this and a lot of valuable research from Bob Wagner, himself a 509th PIR veteran.
So I put everything together info one article. It covers the origins of the insignia, how the American paratroopers came to wear it, and the different manufacturers.
On this photo, you see my first badge on the left, which turned out to be a post-war Drago badge, and a wartime badge made by Chobillon. In the artice you will find tips on how to recognize the differnt types of wartime badges.
In 2009, I first wrote about John M. Beatty’s purple heart. When visiting the Margraten American Cemetary I could not find his grave, even though I knew my family had tended to it when she was young. There are crosses of other Beatty’s at Margraten, but I soon realized none of them was his. Earlier this year, I got this beautiful book “The Faces of Margraten”, but his name does not appear in the index either. So, it was time to start digging to find out more.
I took a trial subscription for ancestry.com and newspapers.com, hoping I could find out more about him. Most of all, what happened with his grave. Apparently, it was at the provisional cemetery at Margraten originally, but his body was exhumed and repatriated to California.
I also found out some other interesting stuff, but there’s still a lot of information missing about his service life. Especially how he ended up in the 17th Airborne, just prior to Operation Varsity.
If you have any books or other references about the 69th Infantry Division or the 17th Airborne Division, 513th PIR, can you help me?